If you are flying over long distances, it can be very uncomfortable and it can also cause many problems to your legs, feet and ankles. “Why are my feet swollen?” is a common question of many people after they have been flying.
In this article we will tell you what does swollen ankles mean and what causes swollen ankles. Also, we will tell you how to treat swollen ankles, swollen feet and swollen legs.
Fluid Retention. The main cause of swollen legs, feet and ankles after flying is fluid accumulation in your body. While you are flying, you cannot move your legs sufficiently so the blood flow in your legs will slow down. It will cause your ankles and your feet to be swollen.
Menstrual Period. If a woman has a period, her ankles will probably be swollen while she is flying. In some more serious cases, a woman may also experience blood clots, but more about them you will see below.
Pregnancy Complications. Many pregnant women experience swelling of their feet and ankles. It is normal, so you don’t have to worry. But, if there is excessive swelling or pain, then it may be the sign of a more serious condition. If you also experience headache, abdominal pain, nausea or vision problems, you should seek medical help as soon as possible.
Injury. If you had an injury to your foot or ankle, then it can also lead to swelling. Actually, the most common cause is sprained ankle. If your foot is injured or if your ankle bone is injured, you should avoid walking on this foot or ankle.
Lymphoedema. Lymphoedema may be another cause of swollen feet, ankles and legs. If you have a problem with lymph vessels or if your lymph nodes are removed, then you are more likely to have this disease. The movement of fluid in your body will be blocked.
If you don’t treat it on time, it will cause an infection or some more serious complications. It is known that lymphoedema is often a result of radiotherapy or cancer treatments. If you have cancer and if you notice that your feet, ankles and legs are swelling, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Venous Insufficiency. Another possible cause of swollen feet and ankles can also be a condition known as venous insufficiency. It means that the blood flow through your veins is inadequate. This condition is usually caused by varicose veins, blood clots or some other vein problems. You have to find the underlying cause of venous insufficiency, in order to treat it properly.
If your venous insufficiency is chronic, then you will also have problems with your skin. If you are diagnosed with venous insufficiency, we recommend you to seek medical attention.
Blood Clots. Blood clots are one of the most common reasons of swollen feet and ankles. If you have deep blood clots, it can be very dangerous or even life-threatening. If you have only one swollen ankle and if you have a fever, then you should seek medical help as soon as possible. In this case you will need the treatment based on blood thinners.
Many studies have shown that women who take birth control pills are at a higher risk of having blood clots. In this case it will be necessary to seek medical help as soon as possible.
Heart and Kidney Disease. Problems with heart and kidneys may also cause the swelling of your feet, ankles and legs. It is known that fluid will accumulate in your body if your kidneys don’t work properly. Also, swollen ankles can be a result of heart disease. If the swelling of your ankles is accompanied by some other symptoms, such as loss of appetite or weight gain, we recommend you to seek medical help.
Obesity. Many studies have shown that obese people are more likely to have problems with swollen legs, feet and ankles while they are flying. On the other side, people who are physically active and who exercise regularly are less likely to have swollen ankles or feet.
Certain Medications. It is also known that some medications may cause the swelling of your ankles and feet. These may be antidepressants, diabetes medications, blood pressure medications or even non steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. If you think that the reason of your swollen feet or ankles is a medication that you are using, it may be necessary to change it or to reduce the dosage of this medication.
When Should You Visit a Doctor?
As we have already said, swollen legs, feet and ankles are common after flying, but if there are any other symptoms, it will be necessary to visit your doctor. If you have also pain in your chests and if you have difficulties with breathing after you have been flying, you should seek medical help.
Also, if your feet, legs or ankles are swollen even hours after the flight, it may be a warning sign for you. It means that blood clots may have appeared in your legs, which can be a very serious condition.
Fortunately, there are many ways to treat swollen legs, feet and ankles after flying. Now you will see some of the most common home remedies and methods for this problem.
Ice. As you probably know, ice is a common home remedy for many health problems. It is also a great swollen ankles treatment. Ice will tighten your blood vessels and this way it will reduce the swelling of your feet and ankles. There are many ways how to use ice in order to reduce swelling.
You just need to take several ice cubes and put them in a cloth. Apply this compress to your swollen ankles and let it stay for about 10-15 minutes.
Another option is to prepare a cold bath for your feet and ankles. Put several ice cubes in water and soak your feet in it. It may be very cold, so it is enough to keep your feet in cold water for about a minute or so. You should repeat this process several times a day.
Warm Bath. Not only ice bath will improve the circulation in your swollen feet and ankles, but you can also try warm bath. You just need to prepare warm bath for your feet and to soak them in warm water for about 15-30 minutes. You can repeat this process twice a day. It is a great cure for swollen ankles.
Epsom Salt Bath. If you have problems with swollen feet and ankles, we also recommend you to try an Epsom salt bath. It will relax your feet and ankles and it will help you get rid of pain in your legs. This bath will reduce the swelling and improve your circulation.
You just need to take a handful of Epsom salt and to put it in a tub with warm water. Keep your feet in it for about 15 minutes or even half an hour. You can repeat this process every morning and every evening. After a couple of days you will see that the swelling of your feet is reduced and that your circulation is much better.
Elevate the Feet. Another method that may also be very helpful if you have problem with swollen feet, ankles or legs after flying is to elevate your feet. Actually, the feet should be at the level of your heart. While you are sitting, you can put your feet on the stool, for example.
Also, when you are lying down, you can simply use a foot pillow that will elevate your feet just to the level of your heart. It is recommended to keep the feet elevated for about half an hour, but you should repeat this process 2-3 times daily.
Move Your Feet. As we have already said, while you are flying you are not able to move your feet sufficiently. Because of that, it is recommended to move them after flying, in order to improve the circulation in your legs. This way you will also reduce swelling.
We recommend you to walk every day regularly. You can walk 10-15 minute but you should repeat this walk at least 3 times a day. This way you will increase the blood flow in your legs and you will make your circulation much better.
Massage. If you have problems with swollen feet or ankles after flying, we also recommend you to massage them. A good massage may reduce swelling and relieve the pain in your feet and ankles. It is recommended to massage your feet in your heart direction.
You can massage your feet on your own, but you can also ask someone to help you. You should start the massage from your toe muscles and your feet and continue with your legs and knees. If you use some essential oils for the massage, the results will be even better.
These are some of the best methods and natural remedies that may help you reduce the swelling of your feet, ankles and legs and improve the circulation. It is best to start using these remedies immediately after flying. If you apply them regularly, you will notice the results for a couple of days.
Fortunately, there are many methods that can help you prevent the swelling of your feet, ankles and legs while flying.
How to Prevent the Swelling of Your Feet, Ankles and Legs while Flying?
Drink Plenty of Water. We all know that water is necessary for all the functions in our body, so it is recommended to drink plenty of water every day. We also recommend you to drink large amounts of water the day before flying and also during the flight. It is necessary to keep your body hydrated all the time. Also, if you drink plenty of water, you will go to the bathroom more often. This way you will move your feet and legs, which is most important for maintaining good circulation.
Regular Walks. As we have already said, it is important to move your feet and to walk as much as you can during the flight. This way you will increase the blood flow and your feet and ankles will not be swollen after the flight.
Eat Less Salt. Another recommendation is to eat less salt the day before flying. It is known that salt will accumulate the fluids in your body, so it can cause the swelling of your feet and legs while you are travelling. Because of that, it is best to reduce the intake of salty foods several days before the flight.
Massage the Feet. As we have already said, massage is a great way to treat the swelling of your feet and ankles. You can also massage your feet while you are travelling. You just need to take off your shoes and to massage them. This way you will increase the blood flow and reduce the risk of swelling.
Elevate the Feet. You can also elevate your feet while you are flying. If the seat beside you is empty, you can place your feet on it, in order to improve the blood circulation in your legs.
Don’t Cross Your Legs. We recommend you not to cross your legs while you are flying. This way you will press your veins too much, which can reduce the blood flow in your feet and legs.
Compression Socks. If you have problems with the swelling of your feet and ankles, we recommend you to wear compression socks while you are flying. Also, you can wear compression stockings and slippers. However, they should not be too tight, because they could reduce the blood flow in your feet.
You have seen in this article that swollen feet, ankles and legs after flying are a common condition, so you don’t have to panic immediately. Sometimes the swelling is only the result of prolonged sitting or water retention in your body.
In some more serious cases swollen feet and legs may be caused by blood clots, varicose veins or heart disease. Studies have shown that pregnant women as well as women in their periods are at a higher risk of having swollen feet after flying. Other possible causes of swollen feet and ankles can be obesity, injuries, infections, kidney disease, lymphoedema, etc.
Fortunately, there are many home remedies and techniques that may help you treat and prevent the swelling, such as massage of your feet, compression socks, hot and cold baths, regular walks, etc. We hope you will try some of our remedies and we are sure that you will treat your swollen feet, ankles and legs immediately after flying.